You do have struts, front and rear. Struts are supposed to pull apart hard so tires have less tendency to drop into potholes, and they push together easily so a bump doesn't bounce the car into the air. Struts can make knocking or thumping noises, but loud noises over bumps are usually caused by something else. Control arm bushings and anti-sway bar links are common causes.
Given the age of the car, a better suspect for bottoming out is weak coil springs that aren't supporting the car's weight properly. Weak springs can aggravate the cause of a suspension noise but they won't actually cause noise on their own.
If the car is sitting too low, it is sometimes possible for a suspension link to hit on exhaust parts, but even that isn't common because then the same thing could happen just from hitting a big bump, and that would be unacceptable. If any part of the exhaust system is bent or is not being supported properly by its hangers, that can lead to it banging on something too.
The best approach is to have the steering and suspension systems inspected at a tire and alignment shop. They specialize in finding the causes of noises, handling problems, and tire wear issues. They also have books that show every car model, where to take ride height measurements, and what those measurements should be.
Monday, January 19th, 2015 AT 4:14 PM